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what do I need to know about getting guinea pigs?

(16 Posts)
smegley Fri 12-Apr-13 16:29:16

me and my family have decided to get a pair of guinea pigs, I could do with some advice!
What is the best bedding and cage lining?
I was thinking lots and lots of hay to sleep in and wood chippings to walk on, does that sound ok?
we have got a little house for them to hide in, a grooming kit and water and food bowls, what else do i need?
There is so much conflicting information on the web and I want to get it right.

70isaLimitNotaTarget Fri 12-Apr-13 17:24:57

Hi smegley - you've made the right choice with GPs rather than rabbits (but I've never kept rabbits so my view is skewed in a Guinea-Coloured Haze) grin

Do you want:
indoor or indoor/outdoor (they can be kept outdoors all the time but it's difficult to monitor them. They don't cope with damp and draughts and extremes of temperature)

boys or girls- you can keep a pair of boys if they are 'bonded' or two + girls , or a neutered boar with 1+ sows.

adults or babies- adults, you'll know definately what sex they are. No surprise girl/girl that turn out to be boy/girl (been there)
There are loads of rescue hogs but you'd miss the cute piglet stage.

where to keep them- they need more space than the cages in the shops would lead you to believe, And they are quite vunerable WRT predators.

I keep my boars on cardboard (no staples or plastic/sellotape) topped with newspaper and hay. I put wood cat litter (rodent friendly) in their indoor cage for aroma control.
They don't smell if you keep them clean, it's mainly the hay.
Sawdust and shavings is generally not recommended as it's dry and dusty.It can irritate their breathing and dry their skin and fur.

Ours don't drink water, even though it's there. They have loads of veg.

My DD wanted boar pigs, so we got our two from a Rescue as 1 year olds. I have had mainly sows as a child. The boars are very affectionate characters, loving ,cuddly , food obsessed .
They are very close but when they are in their sleeping quarters they keep their distance unless it's cold.

Bear in mind your pigs will live up to 8 years (maybe more). You need to give them daily care .
Cleaning, feeding, checks. Cuddles.
A cavvy-savvy vet.- if they get ill, they do so quickly. Majority of GP illness is preventable.
Holiday care.

Lots to consider- but IMO (and my DDs) they are the BEST rodenty pets EVER grin

70isaLimitNotaTarget Fri 12-Apr-13 17:27:24

two + girls

should read two or more girls not 2 boars + girls (that would be hmmm challenging)

mousetours Fri 12-Apr-13 17:41:14

We have just got 2 guinea pigs. I would recommend - lots of info on food, cages, bedding etc. After looking at this site we keep ours on fleece which is so much cheaper in the long run than bedding.

ThisIsNotWhatIWasAfter Fri 12-Apr-13 22:14:02

waves I'm sneaking in to hijack the thread slightly to ask for tips on how to make sure, as much as possible, that two boys don't fight. I read online that neutering won't help but i dont know if thats the case. Even a nudge to the right website would be greatly appreciated.

smegley Fri 12-Apr-13 22:16:13

hi 70,
thanks for the great advice, the pigs will be indoors with access to outdoors if the weather ever warms up!
how do you know if they are bonded?
I am not really bothered about boys or girls as long as they get on.
thanks for the website tip mousetours, will definitely check it out.

70isaLimitNotaTarget Fri 12-Apr-13 23:11:47

The site mouse posted on is a USA one but there's a C&C cage uk site that is good. (The USA site might have products not available in UK )

'Bonded' boars are ones which are an established pair. Usually littermates .
An older boar can be bonded with a very young male piglet (especially if they've had a cagemate that's died ) and are quite 'fatherly'. Trouble can start when the baby gets to the terrible teens and there's a surge of hormones. Sometimes the younger one will become Alpha pig.

More difficult to introduce two adult boars .

WRT websites:
Guinea Lynx is good
Peter Gurney
Barmy 4 Boars (lots of pictures of their boars that were bonded, some as rescued adults, but they knew the personalities of the boars. Some worked, some not)

Neutering doesn't change their attitude and it's a considered risk going through surgery .You'd only really want to put your boar through surgery to match with a sow/sows. And make sure your vet has experience with small animal surgery.
The RSPCA site says that boars should be neutered to keep in pairs hmm

My 2 boys were over the 'worst' because we got them as adults. The only time they'll bicker is if they are confined in a small space against their will. But they'll happily squeeze into a small box of hay together when they have one each.
They need enough room and hidey spaces that they can get out of each others faces.
Any boxes should have 2 doors so they can't trap each other.
Enough food, space between bowls.

Our GP1 is the rumblestrutty, marking with pee, goes round the cage 'checking' to make sure it's okay one. Then the littler boar will join him.
But GP2 is not averse to making a right little git of himself (sitting on GP1 who was buried in hay, blocking the door to the wicker hedgehog house).

I've tried all types of bedding- fleece, shredded paper, an old pillow, little fleece catbeds. The thing they really love is hay. Given a choice of beds and hidey boxes, they'll be in hay.
I suppose it feels more natural to them. A fleece is soft and cuddly, but they'll burrow a little cave in hay and all we can see are two tiny noses grin

70isaLimitNotaTarget Fri 12-Apr-13 23:14:28

Our boars are brothers who were in a Rescue together not paired as one year olds.

ThisIsNotWhatIWasAfter Fri 12-Apr-13 23:19:46

Thank you 70 I think that pretty much confirmed what i thought, it might work it might not, I'd better be prepared to fork out for extra accommodation if it doesn't.

DevonCiderPunk Fri 12-Apr-13 23:26:45

We inherited 2 unwanted male guinea pigs and they are poppets. They can't/won't bite, they keep our two little postage stamps of lawn nice and short, and they are chatterboxes. They are happy to sit on a lap or just chill out wherever they've been plonked.

DevonCiderPunk Fri 12-Apr-13 23:27:46

Ooh yes they love hay. When I put new hay in the hutch they have a very cute frolic through it.

70isaLimitNotaTarget Fri 12-Apr-13 23:35:55

In winter 2011 my boys were overnight in winter in their indoor cage and we had to seperate it into 2 because they were squabbly. But they went out into their outdoor Pighouse (shed) everyday to be together.
(Their indoor cage is 2'x4' we spilt it with a heavy metal grid so they could see/hear each other). When they had enough room they were ok.

This winter we didn't use the divide but they went in the little bedroom with a duvet over the top of the cage. Keeping them quiet and not too warm worked for them.
I didn't realise until they were next door to DH and I how noisy they are at night.
GP2 chews cardboard and GP1 makes a little cooing noise like a pidgeon.
I sometime go through and say "Right, you two, belt up" and they look at me hmm all judgey.

They're out at night now in their Pighouse (now that DH has mended their roof) They had temporary blue tarpaulin for a couple of weeks- very nice grin

70isaLimitNotaTarget Fri 12-Apr-13 23:40:55

Devon if I rub GP1 on his rump he "attacks" our clothing (not biting but ruffling with his teeth).We don't do it often, he might like it too much.
They are lovely aren't they? I can honestly say the only time they apply the teeth is when our hands smell of guinea-veg. And it's not a bite it's a gnaw.

GP1 is my DD boy (she's 11) .She carries him round, he looks over her shoulder looking really smug. grin

ThisIsNotWhatIWasAfter Fri 12-Apr-13 23:42:28

Sorry for the hijack Smegley. Good luck with your piggies. 70 you are a star the Barmy4boars site looks great. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that they can stay peaceful.

70isaLimitNotaTarget Sat 13-Apr-13 18:31:08

For cleaning out the boar cage and Pighouse, I use a handheld steamer.
Tap water- so no potential irritants if they ingest it.
Very high temperature, kills germs, sterilises and sanitises.
Helps to soften and loosen dried GP droppings and lift those little cloudy pee deposits.
Steam dried quickly, just wipe over with an old towel then air dry.

And - bonus with boars- there's no over-powering disinfectant smell that they feel the need to mask with their aroma d'boar wee.

Yes GP1 I do mean you <<daggers>>

FernieB Sun 14-Apr-13 11:57:30

70 - you are a star! I have a steamer in the cupboard and never thought of using it on the pig's cage <<bangs head on desk>>

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